Millennial Spotlight: Making an Impact in State Government

As of April 2017, there are nearly 20 million state and local government employees in the United States. While each of these govies is making a unique impact on state and local government, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of public-sector employees. This holds especially true for millennials who are new to government and may feel like a small fish in a very big pond.

However, one California State employee is making waves in her department by facing state and local government challenges head-on. Danielle Metzinger is a Learning and Development Specialist at the California State Teacher’s Retirement System, or CALSTRS. In this role, she facilitates critical trainings and staff development.

Metzinger was eager to do so out of college. “Growing up in Sacramento, government is a very common thing to be aware of,” she explained. “Additionally, I had other work before and while I was in college but once I graduated I wanted something stable and to be in a role that I could actually help people in.”

Despite her eagerness to work in public service, Metzinger emphasized that there are some unique challenges in state government. First, is bringing in and building up talented employees. “There are a lot of outdated and complex steps and procedures people need to get hired, or promoted, or to get opportunities that they are looking for in the state government,” Metzinger explained.

In order to overcome this, Metzinger has participated in a cross-agency group that is looking to improve recruiting and retaining processes. “Some of the things we are working on include consolidating processes, making job descriptions more simple, making entry requirements and exams more accessible,” she said. Through these efforts, Metzinger is helping to make it easier for more millennials to start a career in public service.

Overall, Metzinger finds the most valuable thing about her job is providing service. Whether it’s on her colleagues as a learning and development specialist, potential employees, or the citizens of California, Metzinger loves seeing the impact of her work. “I grew up in California, these are my people and it is so meaningful to be able to have an effect on my neighbors.”

One particularly meaningful project was a report on the gender pay gap that she worked on while at California’s Department of Human Resources. The report is something that Metzinger and her team provided to the state legislature every year. However, when she worked on the report she took some time and tweaked some of the things she felt were important.

Her work on the report was timely because when it was presented to the legislature, they used it to vet onboarding leadership. “Incoming leadership was being questioned about what they were going to do in regards to state services while specifically citing the report,” she said. “So it really helped bolster some of the efforts we were trying to make in terms of recruitment and other workforce development options that we could do to help address the gender pay gap.”

The good news is that any millennial can make a similar impact like Metzinger. She concluded, “keep an open mind and you can do literally any type of job for the government. Whether its a firefighter, a correctional officer, or an administrator, if you don’t set limitations on yourself you’re free to see what you’re able to do.”

If you love hearing millennial stories straight from the source, check back the first Thursday of every month for a new inside perspective from young govies. If you want to be our next featured millennial, email us here.

This post is part of GovLoop’s millennial blog series, First 5.

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